If you are trying to break into print writing, the holiday season can be friend or foe, depending on how you use it. Over the years it has been my experience that trying to query in the period from Thanksgiving until around the Superbowl is a huge waste of time.
That said, you can use that time to get your foot in the door if you are smart.
This time of year editors tend to work ahead or put things off until there is more time. Queries move to the bottom of the "important" list, and your chances are not great in terms of getting attention for your brilliant writing ideas. So what's a poor writer to do?
I use the holiday season as a marketing period. Instead of trying to sell articles, I work on selling myself. Here's how:
- Update all of your online pages. Freshen up your website. Check out the bio on your blog and make sure it's current. Add to your LinkedIn profile. Go into the next year with all your info up-to-date and fresh.
- Send out holiday cards. This is a great way to maintain relationships with editors, other writers and those in related industries. They don't have to be fancy, but take a little time to write a note inside and be sure to get them out early.
- Do a letter of introduction. This can be especially fruitful when it comes to trade magazines. If you are qualified to write for one, whip up a letter or e-mail that gives the editor a quick peek at your skills and credentials. Keep it brief, and let them know you are interested in being considered for work at their publication in the coming year. Be sure to include all your contact information.
- Be active on the web. This time of year is a good one to join writing forums, make comments on blogs and generally get your name out there a bit more. Visible is always a good thing, and since it's hard to find time during the regular year to squeeze this sort of thing in, now's a good time. And if you aren't on Twitter yet--jump right on that bandwagon.
- Be a scout. You may not want to send out queries now, but you can do some research on publications and see which ones you are interested in approaching in 2012. It's the perfect time to leaf through magazines, get a feel for the style and voice of different publications and choose the ones you want to target when things pick up.
The holiday season doesn't have to result in a big slump. Use it to jump-start the next year in terms of business so you are ready to hit the ground running. And don't forget to enjoy yourself a bit too!
Any tips for using this time wisely from those who have been around the block? Leave them below!